- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2012

A federal court judge sided with lawyers for Harry Thomas Jr. on Thursday by ordering the prison-bound former D.C. Council member to pay $353,500 in restitution to the District instead of a higher figure demanded by prosecutors.

U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates decided the lower amount, which had been agreed to in plea papers, was more appropriate than the $446,000 cited by the government. The prosecutors’ figure accounted for money that had been diverted from a fund aimed at preventing drug use among youths to cover expenses for an inaugural ball held at the John A. Wilson Building in January 2009.

Thomas resigned from the D.C. Council in January before pleading guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for youth sports programs. He is scheduled to begin a 38-month term at a federal prison in Alabama on June 20.

Judge Bates signaled at sentencing May 3 that the figure cited by the government was the “proper loss” amount in calculating Thomas‘ sentence, but he deferred on the matter of restitution so attorneys could present additional arguments.

Because the charging papers do not refer to a “ ‘scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity,’ and nothing in the plea agreement reflects that the parties agreed that Thomas would make restitution for amounts beyond the convicted offense, the court concludes that restitution in the amount of $353,500 is warranted, with credit given for any amounts already paid by Thomas,” Judge Bates said in his order.

Thomas must begin to make his payments — minus the $70,000 he has paid to the District — through the Bureau of Prisons’ Inmate Financial Responsibility Program. When he is released, he must make payment of no less than $200 per month and verify the payments with the U.S. Probation Office, the judge’s order said.

At the minimum repayment level, it would take Thomas just under 118 years to provide restitution.

Thomas‘ replacement on the council, Kenyan McDuffie, was sworn in Wednesday.

While the city moves on from the Thomas case, federal action and murmurs continue to swirl around the probes of campaign activities by the city’s top two politicians — Mayor Vincent C. Gray and council Chairman Kwame R. Brown.

Two aides to the 2010 Gray campaign finance teams, Thomas W. Gore and Howard Brooks, pleaded guilty last month to secretly paying minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown with the hope he would continue to publicly criticize Mr. Gray’s main rival, incumbent Adrian M. Fenty.